Wednesday, Jul 02 2014 04:09 PM

Now and Then: Civic pride and celebrations

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Congratulations to the City of Tehachapi on the opening of the new police station on West "C" Street. The dedication ceremony last Friday included a tour, speeches, music from our local school bands and a Tehachapi favorite — refreshments!

The flagpole was dedicated to retiring Police Chief Jeff Kermode, who was commemorated as Tehachapi's first police chief of the 21st century. The police department has had some ups and downs since being re-started seven years ago, as is understandable with a new endeavor, but the new building sends Kermode out on a high note.

New Police Chief Kent Kroeger (a local resident) was sworn in during the building dedication and Tehachapi has much to be proud of with a new facility poised to handle expected growth and according to City Manager Greg Garrett, the city didn't have to go into debt to rehabilitate the former clothing factory.

Cynthia Lees King, daughter of factory owners Spencer and Lillian Lees, was among those speaking at Friday's police station dedication. Mayor Phil Smith introduced her; they are long-time friends, having both been part of the Tehachapi High School Class of 1968, and as a teenager Phil once worked as a janitor at the factory.

Cindy told a story appropriate for the day, of the time when Chuck Koski of an earlier Tehachapi Police Department was patrolling the area after-hours and found a door to the factory unlocked. He entered warily and saw a shadow cast by light through a window. Koski called out, but no one responded and the shadow remained, Cindy told the crowd. So Koski fired a shot from his pistol — mortally wounding her father's fishing waders, which were hanging in his office at the factory.

July 4, 1929

Last Friday’s dedication was an appropriate celebration of civic pride and we're celebrating our nation's independence this week with a three-day weekend and plenty of activity Friday, which we've outlined elsewhere in the pages of this week's newspaper.

Joan Johnson, wife of former Tehachapi News co-publisher Dick Johnson and long-time writer of the popular “Over the Back Fence” column, shared a copy of a July 4 program from 1929.

The four-page "Souvenir Program" included advertising on the back side from five Tehachapi businesses — the Western Coffee Shop, Bartlett Service Station, Frank T. Baumgart's drug store, L.H. Kessing's Highway Oasis and The Bank of Tehachapi — and outlined the day's events.

Opening the celebration was a baseball game between Monolith and the Auto Club. At 11:30 a.m. a barbecue — free to everyone — was held on the Bartlett Service Station grounds. The adjacent cabins were open for use of women and children.

That was an important consideration because ranch families from the neighboring valleys would have come to town for the day — some in automobiles and some still using horse and buggies — and would enjoy a place to rest and change clothing, as needed.

Next were "air events" beginning at 1 p.m. "by numerous popular aviators." This was the same year that Tehachapi Airport was established to support an air mail route between Tehachapi and Bakersfield. Some of those "visiting aviators" also put on an "Air Circus" at 5 p.m. that day.

But the remainder of the afternoon was turned over to rodeo with bull riding, team roping, bareback riding, calf roping and more kicking off at 2 p.m.

Throughout the day there was clay pigeon shooting in a field near the Standard Oil Company plant and music provided by a 32-piece band from Taft.

And Tehachapi didn't roll up the sidewalks on that July 4 in 1929, either. A Grand Ball given by the American Legion was held at Legion Hall.

What a day that must have been!

Del Troy of the Tehachapi Heritage League shared more information with me about the Bartlett Service Station which I’ll share in a future column.

Golden Hills CSD

I received a letter last week from an attorney who represents Golden Hills Community Services District taking me to task over my comments in this column. I’ll share that next week; this week, I hope you have a great July 4 holiday!

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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